Freshman Dort scores 25; Sun Devils roll past McNeese State
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Two games into his college career, Luguentz Dort has shown he can score in bunches.
The freshman guard from Montreal led Arizona State with 25 points, helping the Sun Devils to an 80-52 victory over McNeese State on Friday night.
Dort followed up his 28-point college debut on Tuesday with another eye-opening offensive performance. Senior Zylan Cheatham added 16 points and 12 rebounds and Kimani Lawrence scored 16 for the Sun Devils (2-0).
“I tried to warn everyone, if anyone was listening over the last couple of months,” Sun Devils head coach Bobby Hurley said of Dort. “I’ve mentioned his name a few times.”
Arizona State enjoyed a 42-18 advantage in points in the paint against the smaller Cowboys (0-2) of the Southland Conference. Guard Kevin Hunt led McNeese State with 15 points.
The Sun Devils scored 26 points off 17 turnovers by the Cowboys.
McNeese State went 5 1/2 minutes without a point in the first half after taking an early lead. Arizona State went up by 13, 27-14, on Dort’s twisting finger roll with 5:36 left in the half. The 13-point lead was the Sun Devils’ largest of the half.
McNeese State scored the next seven points, but Dort drove for a floater and was fouled with 44.1 seconds left. His 3-point play made it 33-21, and he blocked a layup just before the half ended.
“I think I did all right,” Dort said. “I could have shot a little better. My confidence is starting to get a little better, the fact that I score the ball well.”
ASU led 33-23 at halftime but made only 11 of 29 shots in the first 20 minutes. McNeese State sank just 6 of 24.
The Cowboys only got as close as eight points in the second half. Arizona State made 16 of 29 shots after intermission.
“We want to try and work the paint and get the ball inside and then get to the free-throw line, and attack the glass and be physical and try and wear some teams down,” Hurley said.
Dort threw down a two-handed dunk with no one around him after a McNeese State turnover, giving the Sun Devils a 58-34 lead with 9:33 to play.
The Sun Devils’ next three baskets were three unanswered 3-pointers to put the game away.
“I think their pressure and athleticism just overwhelmed us. We just ran out of gas,” Cowboys head coach Heath Schroyer said. “They are a really good team and they just overwhelmed us for that six or seven minutes by being bigger, stronger, and faster.”
Arizona State played without guard Rob Edwards, who played 41 minutes in the season opener on Tuesday and scored 14 points but was held out with a back problem. Remy Martin, who is working his way back from an ankle injury, got the start in place of Edwards.
McNeese State has 10 new players under first-year head coach Schroyer. The Cowboys are looking for their first winning season since 2012.
Arizona State doesn’t play its first road game until November 16 at San Francisco, but there are two neutral-court games in Las Vegas immediately after facing the Dons and three more nonconference away games in December.
Cheatham leaped for a windmill dunk to complete a fast break with 12:19 to play, giving the Sun Devils a 51-32 lead.
Arizona State turned a 13-point lead into a 21-point advantage early in the second half and never looked back, with baskets including Cheatham’s jam and a Dort layup off Cheatham’s steal.
“It’s a feeling you get when you just kind of see blood, you see red,” Cheatham said. “Feeding off of stuff like that, it makes the game easier to play.”
McNeese State: The Cowboys return to Lake Charles, Louisiana, for their first home game of the season, against Loyola (New Orleans) on November 16.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils host Long Beach State on Monday.
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